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Ep. 35, Page 37
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Comic 2747 - Ep. 35, Page 37

26th Nov 2018, 8:03 PM in Episode 35 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
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Author Notes:

smbhax 26th Nov 2018, 8:03 PM edit delete
NASA successfully landed its InSight rover on Mars today, which has become kind of a routine thing for NASA, but it's more impressive when you look at the map of Mars probe landings and attempted landings in that BBC article, and see that no other space agency has had a fully successful landing on Mars, whereas NASA has now had 7.

NASA's one failed landing on Mars was the 1999 Mars Polar Lander: during its landing sequence, an engineering flaw caused it to receive a successful landing signal when it was still 40 meters above the surface—so the probe duly shut off its engine, fell 40 meters, and was destroyed on impact with the Martian surface.

That's not too dissimilar to a much more recent crash on Mars—you may remember the European Schiaparelli probe crash in 2016, where a momentarily overloaded sensor during its descent over Mars caused the probe to calculate that it was at a negative altitude—so, 3.7 km up, it released its parachute, fired its braking thrusters for 3 seconds, and then dropped like a rock the rest of the way.

Having avoided prematurely congratulating itself over a successful landing, InSight will now go on to see what it can find out about the interior composition of Mars: seismometers will listen for earthquake vibrations, to deduce what sort of strata they're traveling through; a special drill will burrow 5m down to take the ground's temperature; radio antennae will measure the wobble of the planet on its axis, which could allow scientists to make some deductions about the size and state of the planet's core.